The Diet that Cured my Rosacea & IBS

ibs diet

I was defeated, down-trodden, bloated and lethargic when I slinked into Dr. Brendan Armm’s Santa Monica office some 3 years ago.

At this time in my life, I was a regular at the G.I. and dermatologist, as I was suffering from an acute case of irritable bowel syndrome that they were labeling as Chrones and diverticulitis, yay.  In conjunction, I also had developed severe rosacea.  All of these new conditions, I was told, were incurable.

Out of options, I took a last leap of faith and decided to get a second opinion from a non-western doctor, which led me through the zen doors of Lotus East-West Medical Center.  Brendan Armm is a doctor of acupuncture and oriental medicine who came highly recommended by one of my husband’s gym buddies, who swore his similar ailments had been cured.

After a few visits, a lot of acupuncture needles, an inspection of my tongue, blood pressure and body temperature, and a lengthy conversation, Dr. Armm gave me the following diet.  Now, I am posting this because I get asked nearly daily about the diet that helped clear my rosacea.  I believe this diet is a healthy approach for anyone looking to take control of their health, but it is specifically contrived to remedy my highly personalized ailments.  You might have a completely different Dosha (ayurvedic health types), and therefore require a completely different diet plan.  I suggest going to see Dr. Armm if you live in Los Angeles, or finding an Eastern medicine doctor to chat within your area to help you find the best diet for your particular needs.

The Cure-All diet that Worked for Me

In chinese medicine, the spleen governs digestion, energy, and mental activity. My diet plan was designed to help tonify my spleen.

Food to tonify, strengthen and benefit the spleen:

  1. foods grown close to or in the earth
  2. yellow or orange foods
  3. grains
Eat more: radish, squash, ginger, rice, quinoa, teff, amaranth, buckwheat, barley, oats, spelt, banana, yellow and orange peppers, corn, peach, beef, lamb, carrots, cherry, peas, persimmon, potato, rice, string bean, sweet potato, white fish, aloe, barley, fava bean, garbanzo bean, millet, oats, parsnip, pumpkin, spelt, strawberry, yellow legumes, ginger tea, congees (chinese rice porridge), kitcheri (indian dal/lentil/veggies, bok choy, spinach, collard greens, deep leafy greens, chard, cabbage, soups, steps, slow cooked foods, pickled foods (some), kefir, yogurt.

Eat Less: raw foods (like salads, raw vegetables and raw fruit,,), refined carbs (pasta, bagels, toast/bread, cracker, chips/tortilla), sweets, soft drinks.

Avoid: Greasy, fried, oily foods, cold foods, ice cream and non-yogurt dairy, coffee, microwave, alcohol.

The ideal is a Big Breakfast, Moderate Lunch, Light Dinner.

-In addition, I was given a powder of Chinese medicinal herbs to take daily as a tea.  I was also advised to continue my probiotics (I’ll link to the ones I like below), and eat only some fruit.. but not all day long, as I had been doing. It was suggested that I try to eat everything cooked and warm, even the fruit!

So my typical day of eating looked like this:

Breakfast: Chinese medicinal herb tea + probiotics + multivitamin + digestive enzymes.  After I finished my powder tea, I usually made a pot of another herbal tea to help me drink enough water (and keep me from going insane without my beloved coffee). Or fresh grated ginger tea – yum.  And then I’d chose one of the following options:

  1. Gluten Free slow-cooked oatmeal with cut up pear pieces and fresh cranberries cooked in.  Topped with cinnamon and a bit of grade A maple syrup or stevia
  2. Quinoa porridge with cooked fruit
  3. Gluten Free toast with almond butter and grilled banana in coconut oil
  4. Slice of organic, no added sugar, gluten-free banana bread, toasted (homemade recipe here)
  5. Purely Elizabeth granola (or any low sugar, gluten-free granola – I like purely Elizabeth because there are added probiotics!) on top of coconut yogurt or with almond milk – left out until room temp
  6. A protein shake with quality organic protein powder + fresh fruits + vegetables + black beans or avocado without ice – left out until room temp
  7. And eggs if you tolerate them..  which I did not.
Lunch + Dinner: If I was home I’d cook a big crockpot or rice cooker full of food that lasted me for lunch + dinner for two days.  The possibilities are seriously endless and you could get so creative!  The days when I was lazy or feeling sick, I’d just have a sweet potato for lunch with some leftover veggies, chicken or quinoa. If I was eating out, I’d usually stick to dairy-free soups or grain bowls.  Really any combination of potatoes, vegetables, chicken, rice, fish, turkey, beans, quinoa.. all preferably boiled or cooked well. All preferably organic, and all preferably sprouted when applicable. Here are some ideas:
  1. Detox Crockpot Soup (video here)
  2. Vegan Pumpkin Soup
  3. Wild Rice and Chicken Soup
  4. Indian Dahl
  5. Mild Curries
  6. Korean BimBimBop bowl
  7. Gluten Free Pasta with Veggies and an oil + garlic sauce or nut pesto
  8. Thai Bowls with glass noodles instead of traditional noodles
  9. Sage & Sweet Potato Stir Fry 

With lunch, I liked to have a shot of apple cider vinegar diluted in water with some stevia and cinnamon. After dinner, I enjoyed a warm cup of bone broth.

Snacks: grilled banana in coconut oil, handful of gluten-free granola, handful of sprouted nuts, Spoonful of nut butter, Steamed carrots with hummus, healthy protein bar, vegetable juice, chocolate avocado mousse

For me, what worked was eating whole organic foods as much as possible, and supplementing here and there with packaged foods that didn’t derail my progress.  Now, I don’t eat meat.. and probably will never again.  But at this time of my life, bone broth and chicken kept me sane and helped heal me.  I think this diet could be done vegan, by subbing vegetable broth and plant based proteins… but I’d stay away from soy still.  My suggestion is to keep a detailed food diary to see what works, and what doesn’t, for you. I wrote down every single thing I ate, how I felt immediately after I ate it, and how I felt at the end of the day. I tracked my sleep patterns, my bathroom habits, my energy levels, my rosacea, and bloat, daily.  This helped me to realize that things like eggs really bothered me by flairing up my rosacea. I tried this diet and failed once, before being so fed up that I gave it a three-month perfect run.  I was religious about what I put in my body.. and it worked, it really worked.  The first thing I ate off this diet was a maragarita and some chips my last day in Mexico for a friend’s bachelorette party and yes, it did make me feel sick.  But then I got home and I slowly started introducing things back into my life, while keeping the journal.  I didn’t have wine for another 6+ months because it was a huge trigger for my rosacea (and in turn IBS – they worked together).  I didn’t have coffee for nearly a year, I still don’t eat eggs, and I limit dairy and gluten. But everything else?  It’s back in my life in moderation without any flair ups — I’m on my second cup of coffee today while I type this!!

Rosacea feels like a curse, but it’s not.  It’s just your body telling you something else is going on – most likely with your gut and intestines.  Listen to your body, take care of yourself, eat right, watch your stress, and love yourself deeply, and never forget that your skin, your condition, your disease, whatever it may be, does not define you.

Good luck!


Here’s a starter pack of vitamins + snacks that kept me sane:

This is the 3rd rosacea post I have, here are the other two:

6 Steps to Cure Rosacea

Best Products for Rosacea 

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